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White Sox's poor spring finish addressed in meetings

4/5/2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chicago White Sox ended spring training with a thud, and manager Robin Ventura was not going to chalk it up simply to his club looking forward to the start of the season.

The White Sox not only lost their final Cactus League game 10-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they then flew across the country and got thumped 10-2 again, this time by Triple-A Charlotte. That’s right, the players who were deemed not quite as good as the ones in the major leagues, made it a point to get themselves noticed.

The White Sox finished the spring 11-18-3, counting the game against Charlotte.

“We haven’t played as well as we would have liked at the end here,” Ventura said Sunday before the team’s final workout in advance of Monday’s opener. “You get to the point where it counts now and you can’t ever put it on the fact that nothing really counts in spring training and it doesn’t mean much. Now everything means something.”

While the scoreboard is the easiest element to look at, Ventura’s displeasure with the club went deeper than that.

“There was some sloppiness in there so we raised the subject and took care of it in some meetings,” Ventura said. “We need to play better. This is the major leagues. If you are not going to play clean baseball, you are not going to have a chance to win.”

Ventura does have seasoned veterans to work with, such as Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Alexei Ramirez, so their demeanor moving forward will be key. Then there is the professional approach from Jose Abreu, who looked like a seasoned veteran in his rookie year of 2014.

And Ventura has Jeff Samardzija on the mound on Opening Day. The right-hander wasn’t necessarily lights out this spring, allowing nine home runs, but he was able to control the action when throwing his offspeed pitches. Samardzija pitched in the past two openers for the Cubs and didn’t give up a run over 15 combined innings, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road both times.

“I just think the attitude, the mentality changes on a lot of these guys once you leave Arizona and start getting ready for everything counting,” Ventura said. “So for these guys, it’s all about the execution of what you do. We need to be good at it. We need to take care of the baseball.”

Center fielder Adam Eaton echoed Ventura's comments.

“The lull of spring training really got to us toward the end,” Eaton said. “When games don't matter and kind of the vibe is a little different, it is difficult to come and perform well. But at the same time you know you're professional and it needs to be held at a little higher pace. With that being said, we'll have a little more adrenaline [on Monday] and hopefully it translates into some good, solid baseball.”

All eyes will be on the defense early, especially on the infield. Three of the four White Sox infielders -- Johnson, Abreu and Conor Gillaspie -- can be considered average at best on defense. Outfield defense gets a boost from Dayan Viciedo’s departure alone, but Cabrera and Avisail Garcia each went through rough patches in the spring.

“There are a lot of details that you need to be good at, and we need to be better at,” Ventura said.